Saturday, 18 November 2017

Planets And Centuries In The Kith History

The name of any god, e.g., Rama, can recur as the name of an extrasolar planet, e.g., in the Kith future history here or in The Enemy Stars here.

That proposed thousand year excursion here is not as far fetched as it sounds because Kenri Shaun is already eight hundred years old in Earth time, having made several voyages each amounting to decades or centuries in duration. Kith Town is designed to endure with robotic supervision for centuries whereas no Terrestrial regime lasts that long and the Dominancy was already in decline. See combox here.

I am posting in a brief interval between the Green Fair and the Indian Evening mentioned in recent posts and therefore have not yet got to grips with the economic conflict between the Kith and the Dominancy (see "Ghetto"). However, it takes as long as it takes. I will be back with you all some time later tomorrow or the day after.

A motto that might suit time-dilated space travelers: Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after.

A Neat Solution

Kenri Shaun's father has extra-solar mementos:

a sword made by a four-armed armorer on Marduk;
a view from the moon of the giant planet, Osiris, where frozen gases resemble amber;
horns from a hunting trip on Rama;
a statue of a god from Dagon.

Each of these planets is named after a Terrestrial deity.

Because the Terrestrial Dominancy is oppressing the Kithmen on Earth, the captain and mates of the Shaun's ship consider a thousand year excursion into new regions, the point being that the Dominancy will not last for a thousand years! But the Kith do not know what they will return to after all that time. Will Earth still need whatever they have to sell? Will Kith Town still even exist? Later, we learn that it will be empty except for robot caretakers. See The Venture League.

Time dilation is like one way time travel. An astronomer that I knew claimed that this application of time dilation is invalid because the time gained on the outward journey would be lost on the return journey. My problems are, first, that I do not understand relativistic physics and, secondly, that I have to ask how the universe knows which is an outward journey and which is a return journey.

Kith Town

In Kenri Shaun's time, Kith Town:

is surrounded by towers;

at its edge, has low, clustered, peak-roofed houses surrounded by lawns and trees, many tended by machines while their owners make decades-long interstellar journeys, others abandoned because their occupants will not return;

for internal transport, has a monorail and narrow indurite thoroughfares, including an Aldebaran Street, lit by obsolete glowglobes;

among its families, has children born a century or more ago outside the Solar System and adult Kith who have aged at different rates since they last met;

holds a Fair when starcraft are in.

The glowglobes are obsolete because Kith want to return home to a familiar environment.

I don't think that I have summarized that before: yet another exotic environment imagined by Poul Anderson. (However, see One Future Earth. Also, for Kith Town in other periods, see Word In Starfarers, Chapter 10, here and The Venture League here.)

Starfarers, Chapter 21.


Poul Anderson's Kith future history exists in two versions. See The Two Kith Future Histories here:

the Star Empire exists in the first version though not in the second;

the first version begins with the short story, "Ghetto," whereas the second version comprises the novel, Starfarers, and Chapter 21 of that novel is a revision of "Ghetto";

The Kith history exists in two forms, the first emphasizing trade, the second emphasizing exploration.
-copied from here. 

I propose to discuss Starfarers Chapter 21 in a post about "Class Warriors" (see Two Good Ideas here) but not at this time of night, having just driven back from an annual dinner out in the country. Reading, rereading and blogging continue but at a reduced rate because Earth Real is as eventful as the Earths of fictional timelines. Lenin's The State And Revolution is unfinished because it was interrupted by the outbreak of the October Revolution in 1917. I do not expect events on that scale in Britain in 2017 - although you never know - but meanwhile personal life remains eventful enough. Meanwhile also someone else might reread "Ghetto" or Starfarers Chapter 21 and tell me what they think?

Friday, 17 November 2017

Two Good Ideas

This morning in the swimming pool, I got two good ideas for posts:

one post, on "Class Warriors," will compare a passage in Poul Anderson's Kith future history with a passage in Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels' The Communist Manifesto;

the other post, on "Self-Reference," will compare a comment on Anderson's Maurai future history in the same author's There Will Be Time with a passage in Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice.

Alert readers might deduce to which passages I refer.

But it might be a while before either post gets written. This weekend just got busier. To the activities listed here have been added:

helping Aileen with a musical event that she organizes;
attending an "Indian Evening" at another friend's house tomorrow.

Onwards and upwards.

Thursday, 16 November 2017


For reasons that make sense at the time, David Falkayn pretends that he needs privacy for meditation. His acquaintance with Adzel enables him to waffle about Buddhism:

the purer Buddhist sects are agnostic;
they do not require belief in reincarnation in the usual sense;
nirvana can be attained before death and consists of -

Falkayn is interrupted. I would like to know what he had been going to say about nirvana. Instead, SM Stirling's Wiccan character, Orlaith, gives us some insight into spiritual realization:

a man whom she kills with her mystical Sword looks as if a veil has been lifted, revealing to him the absolute truth of his existence;

Wiccans expect such a realization after death;

the only post-death punishment is full knowledge of the cause and consequence of all your actions.

"Right now she was realizing that that might be just as serious as the Christians' hellfire."
-SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Twenty-Seven, p. 678.

Maybe it is the Christian's hellfire?

"Nothing burns in Hell but the self." (See here.)

I think that any such realizations precede death but religions give us stories about a hereafter.


Poul Anderson, primarily known as a science fiction writer:

was a Sherlock Holmes fan;
wrote detective fiction;
sometimes synthesized detective fiction with sf, e.g., see here;
at least once, synthesized detective fiction with fantasy.

So are Anderson fans also Holmes fans? And do they read other detective fiction? If so, which authors?

I have read:

all of Homes;
a lot of Montalbano;
Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy;
Anderson's Trygve Yamamura Trilogy and one Yamamura short story -

- and, of course, a few other novels, e.g., I highly recommend A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine.

However, no way am I a fan of detective fiction in general. Once, I found a bookshop that sold nothing else and had no interest in browsing through the shelves.

(Sheila watches Father Brown on television.)

Say It With Flowers

Dominic Flandry has stunned some guardsmen:

"Wildflowers grew round about, long-stemmed and white-petaled. Flandry folded all four pairs of hands on breasts and put a flower in each."
-Poul Anderson, "The Warriors From Nowhere" IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 303-337 AT p. 327.

Enemy pickets have been spelled to sleep, then hit on the head:

"With a grin she used the dirk to snip two roses from the feral bush by the wall, then sheathed it and arranged the two militiamen on their backs with their hands crossed on their chests and the flowers tucked into their fingers."
-SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Twenty-Seven, p. 671.

A sense of humor in two universes.

Spirits Of The Air II

I feel obliged to follow Spirits Of The Air (here) by linking to two earlier posts:

Garuda And Going Bird is about Christopher Holm who has "gone bird," i.e., joined an Ythrian choth, and flies with a gravbelt;

Flying Men shows similarities between Olaf Stapledon's Seventh Men and Poul Anderson's Ythrians.


Stapledon has flying Venerians worshiping a god-bird;
Anderson has Ythrians worshiping God the Hunter, also human choth members and, elsewhere, Diomedeans;
Stirling has an airship named after a Hindu god-bird in his Angrezi Raj and hang-gliders in his High Kingdom of Montival.

As the Ythrians sing and as Stirling's Father Ignatius also says:

"High is heaven, and holy..." (see here)

Spirits Of The Air

Funny that we should mention kayaking because the next item in SM Stirling's The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Twenty-Seven, is hang-gliding:

"...this was as close to a bird's dance with the spirits of the Air as human beings could come." (p. 665)

Human members of Ythrian choths on Avalon in Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization would disagree because they soar on antigravity belts, a technology far beyond the reach of Stirling's Changelings.